Sigh...Do we really need to do this? Okay, fine. To paraphrase the late, great, Bill Hicks: Excuse me, while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit one more time.
Trace did throw for a touchdown, but looked very shaky otherwise, starting with the opening drive when he fumbled, killing a promising drive into Michigan State territory. He also had a tendency to pull a run a little too much, netting only 44 yards on 13 carries. He has definitely seen better days.
Running Back: A
Miles Sanders was one of the lone bright spots, rushing for 163 yards, including a Saquon-esque 48-yard touchdown run (with Saquon in the house, no less). This against a team that boasted the nation’s best rush defense.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: C
KJ Hamler led all receivers with five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown while Pat Freiermuth continued to become another reliable source. Juwan Johnson and De’Andre Thompkins continue to be bitter disappointments with a combined two catches for 15 yards (all from Juwan, as De’Andre was nowhere to be found on the receiving chart). At one point does it become time to allow Justin Shorter and Jahan Dotson chances to prove themselves?
Offensive Line: B-
Michigan State’s D-line gave this unit issues and while they only gave up one sack, Trace McSorley was hurried several times due to a lack of pass protection. They did help open holes for Miles Sanders to run through on the other hand, so perhaps a not good but not terrible grade would be most appropriate.
Defensive Line: D+
Different week, same old shit. Shareef Miller, Yetur Gross-Matos, Kevin Givens, and Robert Windsor all had their moments, but the unit as whole struggled to get consistent pressure on the quarterback and looked gassed by the fourth quarter, allowing Sparty’s running backs to get significant chunks of yardage.
See Defensive Line description.
Garrett Taylor’s interception was the only bright spot for this group that featured numerous dropped interceptions (including an absolutely critical drop that would’ve sealed the game on Sparty’s game-winning drive) and the dumbfounding decision to single cover Felton Davis, especially on that last drive.
Special Teams: D-
Jake Pinegar could very well end being a productive kicker someday, but that someday is not right now with his shaky 1-for-2 kicking, missing from 36 yards and barely converting from 20 yards. Blake Gillikin averaged 45.5 yards on his eight punts, including a long of 52.
The ugliest part of special teams though was Sparty converting a first down on a fake punt run that set up a touchdown to tie the game at 7 early on, and damn near completing a TD pass on a fake field goal attempt later in the game with PSU clinging to a tenuous 17-14 lead. If James Franklin wants to consider any changes to his coaching staff in the offseason, Phil Galiano should be at or near the top of that list.